Friday, January 28, 2005

The Shanley Trial

(Sorry I haven’t posted for a couple of days. There is so much I could post on. But I’ve been sick for a couple days (and still am) plus I was traveling yesterday.)

I’ve been looking forward to the Paul Shanley trial for a long time. He is the poster boy of all I despise in some clergy. He’s a uberliberal. He advocated man-boy sex and encouraged the formation of NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Worst of all, for years and years, his superiors in the Roman Catholic Church didn’t defrock him. I would love to see scum like him rot in prison. . . .

. . . Or so I thought. You see, the prosecution lost three of his accusers. And the case of the fourth accuser is relying on repressed memories.

I have serious problems with repressed memories being used as evidence. Too often, repressed memories have turned out to be manipulated memories and even created memories. No telling how many innocent people have been sent to prison using repressed memories.

Child rape is a detestable crime. Paul Shanley is a detestable person. But I also detest prosecutors who are so concerned about getting scalps that they aren’t concerned that their methods could easily send innocent people to prison.

I also don’t like that the statute of limitations was waived in this case on a technicality. Statutes of limitations exist for a reason. Memories and sometimes evidence are not as reliable years and years after the fact. The statute of limitations in this case was 20 years. That’s plenty of time. Putting that aside on a technicality, especially when the case relies on repressed memories is flat wrong.

I have very mixed feelings about this case. If Shanley molested boys, and he probably did, and he walks, it will be sickening. But if he is convicted on such flimsy evidence, putting aside basic principles of justice, then what stops a prosecutor from using such tactics to imprison the innocent?

And don’t say that doesn’t happen. All too often, it already has.

The trial continues today.

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